Tons of Rock was held June 19-21., but I have been too busy afterwards to manage to post anything from the festival. This was the first time the festival was held, but it is an easy bet that we will get a new festival next year. Everyone there enjoyed themselves, and the line up was very good with Slayer, Anthrax, Sepulture, TNT, Volbeat, Turbonegro and many others filling three stages for three days.
The festival was held at the Fredriksten festning, a grand fortress in the town of Halden, on the border to Sweden. The fortress has been used in war, and the Swedish king Carl XII was killed here in November 30th 1718. One of the bands, Swedish Sabaton, have made an album, Carolus Rex, about this.
The Thursday started out with Blaze Bailey, then Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, Deathcrush, Kvelertak, Shining and Volbeat as the headliner. Personally I wasn’t that much amused by the first two, but Deathcrush are real fun to watch and they sound really good. It is refreshing with bands who give everything on stage. Kvelertak have become one of our better live bands, and have had a lot of live experience touring with Metallica, Mastodon and Gojira.
Shining have been a favorite of mine for some time, and they did another good concert at Tons of Rock. They have also toured extensively, and in July they will play at the Devilstone Festival in Lithuania among others.
Volbeat have long been a live favorite, but this was the first time for me. I liked them, with their happy heavy rock and their charming delivery.
All in all Thursday was a good start for the festival, great bands and a good turn out.
The second day of the festival was a busy day. I saw Year Of The Goat, Black Debbath, TNT, Soilwork, W.A.S.P:, Silver, Ghost and Turbonegro. The arena was more packed this day than on the Thursday, and the mood was just as good. Lots of smiling faces.
Of the bands who played Friday, Year of the Goat was one of the two I haven’t seen before. They play dark, satanic metal, but to me they were a bit boring on stage.
No one will ever say that Black Debbath are boring. Their songs have themes like the internal problems in the conservative party, a request to change the kitchen rag more often, a song about the reearch institute FAFO, and so on – played with great skill and energy.
TNT are one of Norway’s most succesful bands internationally from the 80’s and 90’s. They have played some gigs this year, and I saw them at a small club in Oslo before the gig at Tons of Rock. In spite of Tony Harnell’ bad throat, they did a really good job at Tons of Rock.
Soilwork was also new to me, without convincing me much. But they are competent and looked like having fun on stage.
W.A.S.P. are also one of the big bands from the 80’s, but they haven’t aged as well as TNT, specially not Blackie Lawless. They sound good, but I am not sure Blackies stage outfit is the smartest choice today.
SIlver did many energetic concerts some years ago, and have decided to make a comeback this year. I am very happy for this, since they are one of the most fun bands to photograph. Their music is also good, and their show is just as chaotic as before, with singer Ivar Nikolaisen high and low on stage.
The headliner on the second stage Friday night was Ghost. I have seen them several times before, but have never quite caught the fascination for the band. But this night I changed my opinion of them. They use the symbols of the church to present their dark message, and this night I enjoyed both their songs and the visuals.
Turbonegro changed singer in 2011 after Hank von Helvete quit the band. Tony Sylvester is the new singer, and his style on stage is just as decadent as von Helvete, but in a different way. The band have always been good, with no problems filling big stages, and headlining festivals. Their fans are also as faithful as ever.
The last day of Tons of Rock had 19 bands plus 2 DJs. I managed to see 8 of them – Avatarium, Audrey Horne, Kampfar, Sepultura, Back Street Girls, Sabaton, Anthrax and Slayer. A very strong line up, and this was the day with the most people in the arena.
Avatarium were new to me, and I never quite caught what they were doing. Nice enough and well played, but I had some problems with their visual image.
Audrey Horne are one of my favorite live bands, with four instrumentalists and a singer who pose all the time. They have turned more and more from metal to heavy rock, and their songs and delivery are excellent. I saw them the week before in Bergen and enjoyed both concerts.
Kampfar are one of our oldest black metal bands, starting out in 1994. The last time I saw them was at the Inferno festival this Easter, and although they played well at Tons of Rock, I like them better in a dark club.
Sepultura live were also new to me. They are from Brazil and were formed in 1984 by Max Cavalera and his brother Igor. Their style is more trash and hardcore than black metal. Good band, and good music, but I was a bit disappointed that singer Derrick Green had cut off his dreadlocks.
Back Street Girls are a Norwegian band with Petter Baarlie on guitar. He is running around on stage while playing, kicking out and doing the duck-walk all the time. Their style is straight rock, and they are really fun to watch.
After Back Street Girls, one of the big names, Anthrax, entered the main stage. They were formed in 1981 and have sold multiple million albums worldwide. Like Sepultura and also Slayer, they are a trash metal band, and their stage show is vital, hard and entertaining, with singer Joey Belladonna as the natural center.
Sabaton had the most spectacular show at this year’s Tons of Rock. They had a tanks on stage, which also worked as a drum riser. The tanks had pyro, and fire was coming everywhere during the concert. A colleague of mine described the band as a cross between a heavy rock band and a dance band, and there is some truth there. But as a live act, they are much more entertaining than some of the bands with a much higher cred factor.
The last band on stage at the first Tons of Rock were Slayer. They played quite recently in Oslo, and also at the Oya festival last year. On stage they behave like the trash kings they are, with Tom Arraya residing like a metal grandfather and Kerry King standing at the same place head banging with his shaved hear and long braided beard. Another solid performance by Slayer, and a worthy ending on a festival that hopefully will have many successful years ahead.
(I have to mention that I was heading a workshop in concert photography during the festival and therefore aren’t unbiased here. I still have no problem stating that this was a great festival.)
All pictures are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.